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Blame It On Rio  from Volume 157

This trip out west went well.
There were some lows, and there were some highs.

We had a Jurassic Park moment, a legal battle, good news and bad news
concerning food and the really important things in life.

Trip Report 11/29  Version 1.1
(This report written on Premium Hemp paper.)

As you know, I'd been previously diagnosed with Vegas Fever.
Then, I got some e-mail saying the Garduno's chain was going to open a new restaurant in Las Vegas
that would sell every kind of tequila that was approved for import into the United States.

I checked the Internet and found out Garduno's had restaurants
in several locations including Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Albuquerque is on Route 66, the road to Vegas, and when Mrs. BartCop
said "Road Trip," things fell into place as if by Devine Intervention.

She wanted to try The Coyote Restaurant, which is owned by the same Bozo who
owns the Red Sage in Washington DC., and since it is located at the MGM Grand
Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas,  it seemed as tho God was speaking through her.
His will be done.

So we jumped in her new touring sedan and headed west from Knuckledrag.
We headed into New Mexico and saw cops everywhere.
Behind billboards, under bridges, even in Camaros.
This isn't the Land of Enchantment, it's the Land of Entrapment.

They were pulling over cars doing 80 in a 75 MPH zone.
That's bullshit.
I-40 in New Mexico is mostly flat, desert highway.
There's no reason to even have a speed limit in the desert.
Then I see a pickup with a bumper sticker that says,
"Save America - Hang a Liberal."

...and you wonder why I carry a gun?

Also, I heard my first Navajo pop song.
It was called "Star Walker."
It was mostly a regular song you'd hear on your "hits" station, but instead of a chorus,
they went into a real Navajo chant.  It was cool!
I wish I could've gotten the camcorder on in time to play it for you.

First stop was Garduno's Restaurant in Albuquerque. It took a while
to find, because they don't have a goddamn sign outside the place.

Isn't that stupid?
That was my first warning.

We finally found the place and were seated at a booth.
I asked to see their tequila list and she told me they had their own
"house" tequila, Jose Cuervo and three others.

I asked about the hundreds of kinds of tequila and she said,
"That must be at one of our other restaurants."
It seems like the world exists for the sole purpose to deny me fine tequila.
I've had two broken femurs, I can handle a little rejection...

I didn't want to drink bad tequila, so I had a Corona, for $4.50.
Then the food came....

This was easily the worst-tasting Mexican food I've ever eaten.
I've eaten Mexican food in St. Louis, Little Rock, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston,
Albuquerque,  Durango, Santa Fe, Denver, Taos, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Los Angeles,
and I've never tasted anything as bad as Garduno's Mexican Food.

Swear to Koresh, Patio TV Dinners have three times the flavor of this horrid, lifeless dog food.
When the waitress placed the plate down, they usually say, "Watch out, it's hot," but not this time.
I said, "Geez, it's not hot or moist."

I took a bite and almost gagged.
It was really bad, bad tasting food, and...

Hey, Garduno's...

If you think my comments might cause you financial harm, sue me.
I'll subpoena that crap you call food and feed it to the jury.
I'm certain those who survive will see the case my way.

So we stopped at a McDonald's on the way back to the motel, where
I had some fine Chinaco Anejo Tequila waiting as a backup.
After all, we were on vacation.

The next day we started the second half of our drive.
You wouldn't believe how many trains are moving these days.
Between Albuquerque and Kingman we must've seen fifty trains.
Sometimes we'd see two or three in a five minute period.
Bill Clinton - making the American economy sizzle!

Lo and behold, after crossing the Arizona border, we were attacked by two velociraptors.

You web experts, blow these pictures up and check them out.
I took this picture myself with my camera. It is not doctored in any way.

We got away mostly unscathed, but the green one caught our fender with his tail and caused slight
damage to our shields and moderate damage on decks 18-22.   I bent the fender back and we limped
into Las Vegas looking for a place to stay.  By now it was Sunday night, a dead night in Vegas,
so every hotel in town wants to be your friend.

I wanted to stay at the Luxor and get one of those rooms on the northeast corner of the pyramid.
It's a great view and they have these big hot tubs in the window, instead of hiding back in the bathrooms.

This room is $99.
The girl is $400.

On the way into town, Mrs. BartCop spotted this billboard.

Mrs. BartCop said, "We'll be staying at the Rio," which was fine with me,
because the Rio has great food and great views of the strip.

So we pull into the Rio, check our luggage and valet the car and try to register.
I don't know why this always happens to me, but it happened again. When it was my turn to register,
I asked about getting a room with a view and the lady behind the counter says to me,

"Sir, you'll need a credit card to stay here..."

Son of a bitch!!

Why does this always happen?
I look like an average American, no tattoos, no piercings, no reason why anyone
would assume I can't have good enough credit to have a goddamn credit card.

So I pull out my ADM-backed rack o' credit cards and she gets real nice.
From there on, everything at the Rio was a breeze.
I told her I wanted a nice suite with a view.

Did they deliver!

Photo Copyrighted by BartCop Pix@Inc.

From left to right:
The MGM Grand, then the Monte Carlo. In front of the Monte Carlo, the arches you see are
the back door to the Bellagio. Behind the center of the Monte Carlo you see the Chrysler Building.
To the right of the Chrysler Building is the Empire State Building, so that must be New York, New York,
and the Excalibur is the giant white block. The black pyramid is the Luxor, and that golden giant holding up
the south end of the strip is the fabulous Mandalay Bay.

This was from the 38th floor.  I really liked the 38th floor - until we heard the sirens.
Three times while we were there, fire engines pulled onto the property.

Trust me, at many of the finer hotels in Las Vegas, you get an excellent view of the property to your left
and to your right. If you stay at the Mirage, you get a great view of their volcano and Treasure Island.
But if you stay at the Rio, you get a great view of the entire southern strip.

This room costs $80.
Isn't that wild?
Of course, the same room goes for $440 on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.

Note to self:
Be sure to check out some dumps for Friday.

So, we check in and Mrs. BartCop heads right for the restuarant guide.
She sees an ad for the Napa Italian Restaurant.
I like Italian, so we went for a walk to see what it was like.
(After Telluride, I wanted to avoid "Hot and sour tofu.")
The Napa had a menu posted outside.

Lemon Confit Studded Florida Grouper 53
Florida Yellow Tail Snapper 36
Monkfish 38
Oxtail Caneloni 45
Pastrami-style Squid  38
Black-Ink Noodle 60
Broiled Mahi Mahi  32
Fresh Eastern Scrod 52

Hey, Rio!
Don't forget, there might be some normal Americans here, you know.

Where are the steaks?
Where's the damn spaghetti and meatballs?
Where's the normal Italian food?

Monkfish, Oxtail, Squid and Mahi Mahi?

We said, "Screw that," and went to find the Titanic exhibit.

The Titanic was pretty creepy.
Over 200 artifacts recovered from 2 1/2 miles beneath the ocean.
They had recreations of the grand staircase, a suite, a steerage room, etc.
There are several Titanic exhibits floating around, and this was a good one.
You want to see something cool?

A real-life relic from the bottom of the sea.
This is coal that was pulled from the engine room of the Titanic.
Eighteen bucks for a few small lumps of coal?
Sounds like Pot-luck Christmas With the Gingrich that Stole Christmas.
Mrs. BartCop really got off on owning a piece of the Titanic.
She was nice to me the rest of the day.

So, next day, we did this and that, then later, we set our sights on The Coyote Bar and Grill.
Yes, this was the alleged reason we came to Sin City.

The Coyote Bar and Grill.
We met up with our friend Carl from back in our college days.
Carl was the guy with whom I was thrown in a Mexican jail.

We agreed we would party at this Coyote Bar and Grill, because they have the
best Mexican food and over 150 different kinds of tequila.  Since we'd be partying,
we took a cab like responsible people do when the casino's limo can't be found.

(The cab drivers in Las Vegas are all psychopaths. They are all Travis Bickle, every damn one.
 We took several cabs rides, and they were all psychos.  They're so crusty.
 They made jaded Ol' BartCop seem like Mary Poppins.
 When I get out of a Vegas cab, I want to enlist in Up With People.)

Anyway, we get to the fabulous MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, which is either the
biggest hotel in the Milky Way or it's number two to that monster in Moscow.
We walked endless hallways looking for the Coyote Bar and Grill.
Now and then, we'd ask directions from the crusty cocktail waitresses.
Thank Koresh we were with a local, because those girls must date only cab drivers.

Finally we turn the corner and there was the fabulous Coyote Bar and Grill.

F-ing Closed.

Why is this fancy-ass bar and grill at the MGM closed on a Monday?
Siegfried and Roy work on Mondays, but the cooks and the waitresses at
Red Sageboy's uber-bar can't figure how to work 21 shifts in a week?

What kind of bullshit is this?
What does it take for me to get a drink in a Las Vegas casino?
We headed back to the Rio.

(By the way, the Coyote Bar has a website for "Comments."

Go to "What people are saying about the Coyote Bar and Grill."
           My comments went up the 30th.)

The Strip, from our room, at dusk.

We decided we were going to have some fine Mexican food.
One of the greatest restaurants in the country is the Rio's Bamboleo.
Koresh, help me.

We sat down and the waiter handed me a lengthy tequila list.
I tried to kiss him, but he pulled away.
They have lots of  tequila at the Bamboleo.

I asked Cubby to recommend some fine tequila.   Mrs. BartCop got such a kick
out of hearing Cubby pronounced the names of the different brands.

He recommended some tequila called, Casta Weber Azul Anejo.
It was $13 a damn shot.
I told Cubby, "Make it so!"

Before the tequila arrived, they brought salsa.
This wasn't some bullshit, cafeteria ketchup, either.
They had regular fine Salsa, fine hot Salsa and some bean sauce that was killer.
You know, if you screw up the chips, it doesn't matter how good the Salsa is.
The chips were just-made and they were perfect.

Then Cubby brought my tequila.
I swirled it in my glass like a fluffy-shirted French puta.
I sniffed it, and smelled it and sipped a little.
It was very nice, which caused confusion.

We had to decide division titles before we could fight for the league title, right?
The only way to compare tequila is to "A-B" two or more brands, so I asked Cubby
what else was good.   He suggested Porfidio Anejo (Cts Btl) for $13 a shot.

Lots of people sent e-mail saying, "Porfidio Cactus Bottle is king,"
so I felt it was important,, was my duty to investigate.

The Porfidio was nice, but it stayed too long, just like your brother-in-law
when he promised he'd just stay "until he found a job."
No, I want my tequila to say, "Hi," and then get off the damn stage.

I also tried the Zeffarancho Reposado.
This is very good-tasting tequila, but it was a little woody.
I look down at the price, only $8 a shot?

Eight bucks a shot?
Can I drink tequila that cheap?

ha ha

Yes,  and I liked it better than the Porfidio, but not as well as the Casta Weber.

Then, Cubby's first mistake: Blue tequila.
He brought out something called Tarantula Blue.
I did a shot, but that was a mistake.
I could tell by the taste it was cheap.
This blue tequila has a butter-scotch flavoring added to it.
That goes against all the rules.

You don't fix the taste of the tequila, at least not at these goddamn prices.
If you want to Dubya around with the tequila, use Cuervo.
Fine tequila doesn't need any fixing.


...the Casta Weber Azul won Round One, and let me say,
when I'm testing these fine tequilas, it's not about me.

I'm doing it for you, the reader.

Then Cubby brought the food.
Oh, Koresh hep me, he brought the food, and it was the best ever.

How good was the food at the Bamboleo?
...more flavor than no-filter Camels.
...more spectacular than Teri Hatcher's breasts on Seinfeld.
...more tasty than Shania Twain in silver hot pants and silver, knee-high boots.
(Did you see her Thanksgiving special?)

We must give the Bamboleo FIVE STARS for Best-Flavored Mexican Food.
It was a premier meal, and I could enter the bill as Exhibit "A."

The best part was, this was still early in the week.
We could come back for Round Two, and even Round Three if  necessary.

So, we finished up our tasting and our fine food and did some gambling.
People who gamble sober are crazy.
You don't go to Las Vegas to "beat the house."
You go to have a good damn time.

People that get back from Las Vegas and say, "I broke even" or "I won,"
are lying like they were up for the Republican House Speakership.

They don't build a billion-dollar Disneyland there every quarter
because "Artie from Chattannooga" knows how to beat the system.

Wednesday was a day to remember.
We were going back to the Fabulous Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
to visit the scene of my Vodkas Interruptus from earlier this year.
(Vol 142)

They say this is the greatest vodka bar in the United States.
It's called "Moscow Red Square" or something like that.
It's what they call an "Ice Bar," because a strip of ice runs longways down the top of the bar.
You place your shot glass of fine vodka on the top of the bar, and the ice keeps it cold for sipping, get it?

Once again, we took a cab - hopefully, we'd need one.
Even with my I.Q. of 64, I learn from my mistakes, so I called ahead and asked if they'd be open in 30 minutes.
"Laney" said they would be.  I got her name in case I needed to add her to the witness list.

Another cab ride, another extra-crispy cab driver.
All he did is whine about how terrible tips were tonight.

Hey, Hackboy!
The lady at the Rio seemed to think I looked like a pauper,
so why you crying on my shoulder about a damn tip?

I pulled a trick on him.
I paid him 80 cents over the bill and "accidentally" gave him
my betting receipt from Monday night's football game.
He thought it might be a winner, so he snatched it and sped off with it.

ha ha

OK, so we finally get seated at the "Red Square Vodka bar," or whatever.
"Laney" walked over and asked what we'd like.
I asked to see the vodka list.   While scanning it,  I said,
"What's your best?  I want to try the finest vodka in the house. "

Laney looked me in the eye and said,
"The Grey Goose is our best, Sir."


Mrs. BartCop moved closer to me in the booth.
I asked Laney, "How many kinds of vodka do you have here at your Moscow Bar?"

"Over 250," Laney replied.

Mrs. BartCop's nails started working their way into my arm like that worm thing
that crawled into Ensign Chekov's ear in the movie with the Corinthian Leather guy...

"So, let me get this straight," I said with the patience of Harold Stassen.
"This is the Red Square Bar, and you have 250 different kinds of vodka."

"Yes," replied Laney.

I felt a nail break my skin.

"And the best vodka you have in the Moscow Bar is the French vodka Grey Goose,
and besides the Grey Goose, you have 249 other, cheaper, inferior brands of vodka?"

Before Laney could answer,  ...I felt a drop of blood hit my shoe.
That's a signal we have.

So I politely asked for three shots of vodka, which worked out great,
since Mrs. BartCop doesn't drink shots, I planned to drink hers.

To be fair, ...and what are we if not fair here at
They also had Belvedere and Chopin vodka, which are fine vodkas,
but the service at this fancy bar was terrible.

After we ordered, it took forever to get our drinks. There was only about ten people there,
but I've seen tobacco lawsuits settled in less time than it took to get our drinks at the Red Square bar,
or whatever it's called.  I finally got my drink of the world's best vodka, and it's what I have at home.

We had the one round and left. Koresh, I had a liter back at the Rio, and the view from our room
was much prettier than staring at the headless statue of Lenin, so we punted.

We headed back to the room for a "nightcap."
Passing thru the lobby of the Rio, they had a live band.
The band was playing "Disco Inferno."

Right now, regular readers are thinking, "Liar, that can't be true," but it is.
(See Vol 121)

Yep, it was, "Burn, Baby, Burn" all over again.

We spent Thanksgiving at the Rio, that was a first.
I've never been to a never-ending Thanksgiving buffet before.

After we ate, I stopped by the Rio Sports Book to place a friendly wager.
Except when Barry Switzer was coaching them, I've always hated Dallas.
Dallas was playing Jimmy Johnson, who I hate much more than Dallas.
This posed a dilemma: Who should I bet on?

I decided to bet on the Dolphins. I figured I would either see Dallas lose, which would be fun, or I'd see
Dallas win, which means Jimmy Johnson would be VERY entertaining as he stomped around the sidelines
screaming like a Limba at how he was getting cheated by all the bad calls the officials were making.

Just my luck, Dallas killed them, and Jimmy Johnson behaved himself.
Marino had the worst game of his career, 5 interceptions and no points,
but Jimmy Johnson didn't lose his temper or even muss his hair.

Oh, by the way, and this is true - I heard it myself.
During the game, Pat Summerall said something intelligent.

I'm not kidding, I heard it myself.

I guess the only reason Pat is there is to compliment John Madden. Madden will say something like,
"We're watching a great football player. He's fast, he's smart, and he has the natural
instincts to make the right decision when the game is on the line."

Then Summerall will say, "He sure does."

But, on Thursday November 25, 1999 at 12:36 Pacific time,
Pat Summerall said something that actually had some intelligence to it.

I heard it myself.

The Venetian

Mrs. BartCop said we couldn't leave town without checking out the newbies.
Paris and The Venetian had both opened since we were there last.

Paris was OK.
The employees all look like French cops, with their lil' white, round hats.
They all say, "Bon Jour, Monsiour" or however it's spelled.
They had their elevator ride to the top of their Eiffel Tower, which was OK.
It went almost as high as our room at the Rio.

So we took a surly-cab-ride to The Venetian. I don't know who designed this place,
but I wouldn't be surprised if it was Richard Simmons or Jack Lalane.
It's like spending the day at Bally's,  ...the gym, not the casino.

They had some hokey gondola rides, which pretty much blew. The "canal" must be 12 feet wide,
and all the kids threw popcorn at the old people taking the half-mile-an-hour gondola ride.
Please God, don't ever let me get that old...


...while walking,

...I saw it.

Taqueria Cononita

You know, I'm still a young man.
But as far as I'm concerned, Taqueria Cononita is Tequila Fort Knox.

I've used this phrase before, but what are the odds?

I'm in the Venetian Hotel and Casino, which takes you back to old Italy,
the beauty of Venice, and all the white people, and I turn around and find
the largest selection of fine tequilas in my young life?

They had so many crazy-shaped bottles of luxury tequila.
They had Herradura Ultra-Preservo Supremo that was $30 a shot.
They were running a "taste-testers" special.
You get four 1/3 ounce shots of  tequila for only nine dollars.

We did that twice.
Sadly, my hemp paper tablet was back at the room, so all the tequila "research"
I did went undocumented, but I do remember something about "Corrallejo."
It came in a 2" x 18" inch bottle.

Most of that day was a blur.  Finding Taqueria Cononita was like spending the weekend
at the Playboy mansion with a six-pack of Viagra - and I did NOT see any Jose Cuervo.

The moral of the story?
If you want fine, fine, fine tequila, go to Venice.

Our final day in Las Vegas was not wasted, even if we were.

We had to conduct the final round of research at The Bamboleo.
We knew the food was going to be fantastic, and we knew we were in for a cornucopia
of can't-drink-them-all tequilas. We ordered one of everything on the menu, and Cubby
was there to refresh our drinks when necessary.

There were so many shots that I just sipped a taste of each one and poured the rest into my margarita.
In three days, I had tasted maybe twenty new kinds of tequila, and after all judging criteria was tabulated,
it got down to Casta Weber Azul and the reigning champ, my Chinaco.

I must admit, the Casta Weber is some fine tequila.
At $75 a bottle, you'd expect a fine, smooth-tasting tequila.
But it has a little more after-taste than the Chinaco, so like with my experience
at the Red Square Moscow Bar, I was reminded what Dorothy said:
"There's no place like home."
The final winner of the tequila playoffs was our old friend, Chinaco Anejo.

Why pay more than double for Casta Weber and get the aftertaste?

Our final supper at The Bamboleo was probably the best meal I've ever had.
Again, don't think it was because of the alcohol, but that didn't hurt.
I've never had a better-tasting dining experience in my life.
Each bite was world-class culinary perfection, then I got to chase it with
alternating sips of Casta Weber Anejo Azul and my old friend Chinaco Anejo.
Matter of fact, I thought I saw Betty Bowers but I wasn't sure.

We left Cubby a nice tip, grabbed my margarita with the dozen shots in it
and headed onto the casino floor to donate some money to my favorite charity.

There's a lot that didn't make it into this report.

Maybe I'll do a "Things that were left out" feature soon, but I had to get something posted
to let you know the ditto-monkeys had not been successful in their attempts to assassinate me.

When we got home, I had a mountain of mail.
I remember not too long ago, I hardly heard from anybody.

These days, I'm getting more feedback than Peter Townsend at Leeds.

End of Report

Time Travel Mail

From: Wezeldo

I liked the Las Vegas story, especially the cabbies.

 ...sheesh. I got into a cab to go from Bally's to the Hard Rock.
I swear I got to the Hard Rock BEFORE I left Bally's.
Some space/time continuum thing...pulling g's in a Crown Vicky is not to be missed...

I've got to hear the things that were left out of your story.


To: bart cop
From:  (withheld)

We don't care about mexican food or how drunk you get or your stupid vacations.
Stick to the issues or youll lose everything.

Kurt W

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